July 21, 2006
I have just received the following email from Bob Rosenschein. (I have reprinted it in full partly to help get the word out, and partly because the Washington Post has removed Bob's original formatting.)
Dear friends,Rarely do I put political pen to paper, but when David Ignatius of the Washington Post asked me to contribute a post, I sat down and wrote the following piece. Feel free to link or share. The opinions are my own and do not represent Answers.com.-- BobOne Israeli's ViewThe great Yogi Berra once said, "In theory there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice there is."I am not a columnist - just an ordinary American citizen living in Israel - but I have gained some insight into both cultures, some might say mentalities. Here is what many Israelis are feeling nowadays.The first point concerns some unwritten American values I grew up with:
- Problems are solvable.
- Good will is returned in kind.
- In general, favor the underdog over the top dog (unless you're the top dog).
- If two sides are fighting, they must both have some justification.
- Be reasonable; split the difference.But what if you are living in a neighborhood where they are not quite as reasonable as you? Where your attempts to reason and split the difference backfire? Or worse, where concession is laughed at as weakness.The second point concerns Israel in particular. We are 6.6 million people, toughened but pragmatic. At 8,020 square miles, we have an area 25% smaller than Maryland. The difference is that, unlike America's vast power, with oceans and peaceful neighbors on all sides, the Jewish state is surrounded on several sides with people who actually want to kill us. Not subdue us - destroy our country.It would be convenient to think that this must be because of something we did. But Hamas and Hezbollah say it out loud and crystal clear. The "occupation" is the whole works. Their final solution is the total destruction of Israel. Iran, a member state of the UN, holds conferences called "A World Without Israel."This is the backdrop against which most civilized countries would have us turn the other cheek. As social writer Eric Hoffer once said, "We really do expect the Jews to be the only good Christians in the world."To put things in perspective, imagine, if you can, that Arlington lobbed 1,000 shells at Georgetown. Or sent suicide bombers. How exactly would you react? Imagine that Mexico was calling for the destruction of the United States, backing it up with cross-border raids and missiles.The third point is that Israel already withdrew from every last inch of southern Lebanon and Gaza, as the international community demanded. But the provocations and terror - violence aimed intentionally against civilian targets - continued. This is why we entered this conflict. Enough is enough.This is a horrible situation to be in, fighting Hezbollah behind its human shields. But before bombing southern Lebanon and the Hezbollah neighborhoods of Beirut, Israel dropped leaflets encouraging evacuation. Confronted with terrible choices, we are trying to fight while minimizing civilian casualties.It was wishful thinking to hope that joining the government would make Hamas and Hezbollah more responsible. Sometimes putting the bully in charge of the playground works, and sometimes it doesn't.The operative emotion in Israel right now is sadness, sadness for what is being done to us, sadness for what we must do to defend ourselves. The missiles shot at Haifa landed a few miles from the research labs of Intel, IBM, Microsoft and Google. Israelis would much rather continue working on desalination, stroke treatment, and alternative fuels (see www.israel21c.org). We would rather that our adversaries developed their own economies pragmatically.We hate this conflict, but we will not commit suicide. As Golda Meir said, "We will have peace when our enemies love their children more than they hate ours."My father was a survivor of Auschwitz and Buchenwald, was the most optimistic person I ever knew, but he once taught me, "Above all else, when someone threatens to kill you or your loved ones - just believe him!"The lesson for America is simple. Do not hide from international responsibility. Do not assume the oceans offer protection. Iran is behind Hezbollah, Hamas, Syria, and, of course, the insurgents in Iraq. If Iran gets nuclear bombs, do you want to bet they won't sponsor a radical Islamic group to eradicate American cities?You want to know what Israelis are thinking? Theory and practice are intertwined. We are on the front line, but we will show patience and strength. That's why 89% of Israelis, Left, Right and Center, support the army right now. A mere 61 years and 10 weeks after V-E day, we know that evil and blind hatred exist. And that they can be beaten.
Although I do not believe in Hell, if there is any justice in the afterlife, there is a special place for those who force people to do evil things, because the alternative is worse. Amba expresses my feelings perfectly (via Callimachus):
A supporter of Israel cannot help but writhe in agony at the horrible spectacle of the suffering, death and displacement of Lebanese civilians, their neighborhoods and lives shattered by the wrath of Israeli warplanes hunting down Hezbollah terrorists who hide in their midst.
How do you deal a decisive, clean blow to a terrorist organization that uses its own neighbors as human shields? You don't. You either grant them an unacceptable kind of immunity, or you go after them, whatever it takes, and become a hated slaughterer yourself.
Nevertheless, for those who care for the truth (which doesn't include the vast majority of the Arab world), Israel is obviously trying to minimize Lebanese casualties as much as possible.
Okay, here's the full story.
July 17, 2006
Remember Ham Radio? Used to be, whenever there was a crisis - say, a hurricane, or a war - the ham radio operators would step in and provide an important source of up-to-date local information. Well, now it's the blogs (link via Instapundit). The difference being, of course, that no special expertise is required, and there are now at least 46 million of them! Used to be a fleet of geeks, now it's an Army of Davids!
July 09, 2006
Among Jews, bad feelings about Poland are second only to Germany for the part they played in cooperating with the Holocaust. This feeling might not be accurate, in light of the fact that the Holocaust death rate in many countries approached that of Poland, and Poland was the country longest occupied by the Nazis. (German and Austrian Jews had a relatively high survival rate only because they had time to see what was coming and try to get out.) On the other hand, Poland's bad reputation is immeasurably enhanced by the Kielce pogrom:
Kielce pogrom refers to the events on July 4, 1946, in the Polish town of Kielce, when thirty-nine Polish Jews were massacred and eighty wounded out of about two hundred Holocaust survivors who returned home after World War II. Among victims were also two Gentile Poles. While far from the deadliest pogrom against the Jews, the pogrom was especially significant in post-war Jewish history, as the attack took place 14 months after the end of World War II, well after the Nazis were defeated and the extent of the Holocaust was well known to the world.
Poland commemorates its anniversary:
Poland's President Lech Kaczynski denounced anti-Semitism on the 60th anniversary of a pogrom in the town of Kielce that left 42 people dead, saying democratic Poland had "no room for racism and anti-Semitism."
"As the president of Poland, I want to say it loud and clear: what happened in Kielce 60 years ago was a crime," he said. "This is a great shame and tragedy for the Poles and the Jews, so few of whom survived Hitler's Holocaust."
In Kielce, townspeople and security officers - spurred by a false rumor that Jews living at 7 Planty Street had kidnapped a Christian boy - attacked Jewish Holocaust survivors living in the building on July 4, 1946.
They killed 42 people, almost all Jews, over several hours, and about 30 more were also killed in a violent frenzy that spread across the area. The violence led set off a mass emigration of many of Poland's estimated 250,000 Jewish Holocaust survivors - what was left of the prewar Jewish population of 3.5 million.